eSports as an Olympic game still being debated by the IOC

There has been an ongoing debate regarding whether or not eSports should qualify as a sport in the Olympics.  The discussion has even made its way to the floor of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has previously - albeit briefly - considered eSports games.  Now, possibly as a result of a decline in popularity, the IOC is once again reportedly discussing adding eSports to the Olympics lineup. 

This past weekend, ICO President Thomas Bach stated that eSports was a topic of discussion during executive meetings held by the committee in Tokyo last week.  He explained, “There is agreement we can’t, and we should not, ignore the growth of the e-games industry and the interactivity of it for the young generation. That we should engage with this community.  On the other hand, on how to engage, there are many uncertainties. Because on the one hand, you have an industry with purely commercial interests, on the other hand, you have a values-based organization like the IOC.”

Bach isn't ready to commit to adding eSports just yet.  He added that the IOC learned a lot about the games during an eSports forum held in Switzerland this past July, but feels there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed.  By way of example, he said that developers, publishers and other companies involved in the activity have different agendas, making it difficult to determine who should be involved in legitimizing the activity as an Olympic event. 

Bach doesn't anticipate seeing eSports at the Olympics in the immediate future.  He said that the technology changes so rapidly that it's difficult to develop the necessary framework.  He added, “This means that they all think that e-games as we know them now, will have disappeared in five, maybe even before five years...We need more time, we need more dialogue, we need more contact and then to see how we can get these two worlds together.”

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